BI police-court facility named after late judge

Deputy mayor Jon Quitslund has lived on Bainbridge Island for many years, but he didn’t know Ted Spearman.

Councilmember Clarence Moriwaki said that was one of many great reasons why the council voted to name its new police-court building the Ted Spearman Justice Center—so people could learn about him.

“Ted Spearman and justice go together quite nicely,” Councilmember Michael Pollock said at the May 23 City Council meeting. “He was an incredible human being. It’s a great way to honor his legacy. He will continue to serve as an inspiration for all of us.”

Moriwaki said he met Spearman about 25 years ago, and they had a lot in common. They both grew up in Eastern Washington and were wrestlers. When he moved here he thought he found paradise as he loved the community and the people. “He embodied justice as a person of color,” Moriwaki said.

Councilmember Kirsten Hytopoulos said Spearman was a civil rights attorney who held people accountable while on the bench. “He was a warm, kind, smiling person you couldn’t help but like,” she said.

Spearman’s daughter, Simone, spoke during public comments. She said when her dad moved here in 1983 he enjoyed the slow pace, the unifying love and “the flow of nature and Puget Sound.” She said he stood for equality and justice, and he loved the legal profession as a tool of the people and for the people. She said the family was honored just that his name was considered. “I’m feeling my father’s spirit,” she said.

A Review obituary says Spearman died Jan. 3, 2012 at the age of 64. He and his wife, Marie, were married 42 years. He was named to the Kitsap County Superior Court in 2004 by Gov. Gary Locke, and he was twice elected unopposed. He was the county’s first Black judge.

The other name options for the building were: Bainbridge Island Municipal Building, BI Police and Court Building, Community Justice Center, Madison Avenue Justice Center, Safety and Justice Center, and Ted Spearman Police and Court Center.

Also at the meeting, the council decided to engage in a public process to decide if a graphic design should be placed on the city’s new water tank. Options are leaving it blank, adding a tree mural or adding a tree mural with the city’s logo.

Hytopoulos said while the tank would look nicer with a mural, she was concerned about cost. Public Works director Chris Wierzbicki said it would be about $50,000.

Hytopoulos said since the city is raising water rates a lot already, she would hate for that mural to be paid for by ratepayers. She would rather see the money come from the general fund. Quitslund agreed. “The whole community benefits from this,” he said.

City manager Blair King said the current tank will be demolished and a mural would help the new tank blend in better with its treed surroundings.

Increased water and sewer rates were on the consent agenda, and had been discussed at length previously but that didn’t stop folks from talking about it again.

Hytopoulos said, “It’s incredibly painful to have to do this.” She said a decade ago water rates were cut 30%, and she was concerned at the time that eventually, ratepayers would “take a big hit like this.” She reminded her fellow councilmembers “how important our decisions are” as they can affect people for years to come.

During public comments, Pete Brady said he is trying to “wrap my head around the water rate increase.” He said he just got his first bill, and it was $10 more than it had been. Next year it will be another $10 and the following year another $10, plus whatever the Consumer Price Index is. “And what about the low-income people you keep talking about? We’re not getting water from the fountain of youth.”

The council also accepted a $125,000 donation from the BI Metro Parks and Recreation District for a Lost Valley Woodchip Walking Trail, and also will purchase an easement for $10,000. The one-mile trail at the head of Bay and Fletcher Bay Road needs improvements, such as a boardwalk on wet areas.

During public comments, Andy Maron said this project started in the 1990s when the city talked of extending the waterfront trail about four miles to Gazzam Lake. In 2001 the city obtained an $8 million bond to buy land for open spaces. A commission recommended three shore-to-shore trails. The first was from Murden Cove to Battle Point to Fairy Dell to Grand Forest. The second was from Lynwood Center to Gazzam Lake. A property owner held out for a long time but finally sold last year to complete the Winslow to Gazzam Lake trail. Maron said it may take a long time but things get done when we work together.

During public comments, Reed Price, co-chair of Imagine Bainbridge, asked the council to be part of the group that is working on a vision of BI for 2035 and beyond. It is a grassroots effort based on an AARP program to form a “more livable community,” not just for the elderly but for all ages. The council was going to look at having a liaison involved but now wants to consider other options.

Finally, named to an ad hoc committee to discuss the work of city advisory groups were Quitslund, Moriwaki and Hytopoulos.